|Zack with his 1971 Ford Galaxie|
We arrive at the Cancer Center at 9:30 am. Once all the usual tests are completed, we get the good news that his counts are very good, so we are a go for the hospital stay. This time they have a bed ready for us by Noon and we head over to Mission. On our way there Lawrel calls us (another friend for years, her son Andrew and Zack have been friends since 1st grade). She says that she would love to bring us lunch, we graciously accept and within the hour she comes into the room with hamburgers, fries and drinks. She visits with us for a little over an hour as we catch up on our kids lives. As she heads back to work she gives me a great hug. I forget to stop and take time to REALLY hug. It's like I will fall apart if I let someone get too close. Note to self "STOP... ENJOY THE HUGS!"
So I know we are not the Housewives of NY, NJ, Atlanta, Miami.. etc.... I know we are not the American Gypsies.....So WHY do I feel like I am in the middle of a "reality show", More like Survivor....Well let's just say in the middle of trying to get us packed for the next five day stay at the Hospital, having Zack's blood work, port set up, checking his weight, height and temperature, etc... the drama found us. I won't bore anyone with the details, as they have bored me and (God help them) anyone else around us today. The end result is perfect! My father in law, Big John has been relocated from Hospice care to a new nursing home in Asheville (just ten minutes from the Hospital). He likes the facility, he has his own room, can smoke to his hearts (or not) content, and the grounds are equally beautiful to those he just left. I am not being crude, though we all know I have that ability, I simply have been down this road before and have no desire to do so again.
As a favor to Linda, (whom has devoted most of her life to this man and whom we can NEVER repay for her years of care) I went to make sure that he was settled into the new facility. It made sense, it was only a few minutes drive from my current location. Little did I know the emotions I would feel once I entered the building. The entire time, I couldn't wait to get back to Zack, whom I left visiting with his Cousin Nick, who came to visit with us after working at ICU in the VA Hospital all day. It was time for me to tell Big John about Zack. I enter his room, he is surprised and happy to see me. He looks pretty good (never a surprise for this man, he has a will like no other to live!) I sit down on his bed, he is in his power chair trying to fit his oxygen tank onto the back of the chair. He asks if I am alone, I tell him yes. I tell him that I need to share something with him, he looks at me and says "I can hear, my aides are working really well". "Good, well first let me tell you that Zack is okay," he looks panicked for a moment. I continue "Zack is okay, but he had a tumor on his leg, they were able to remove it, but he must have chemo and radiation for the next year". He tears up a bit and says "do you know how many people I have lost to cancer?" I say "yes, but Zack won't be one of them". "The reason I wanted to tell you this, is, Zack can not come and see you, he can not play football, he can not return to school his Senior year." He starts to name everyone he has lost, and asks the usual questions, how long, is it really all gone, how is he? I answer them all and tell him we didn't tell him before, because we didn't want to make him weaker by the news. He said that he would not mention it when HE came to visit ZACK... That would be a first, for him to come to us! I'm not sure if that will ever happen, but it was nice to hear from him. I asked him if he knew what a blog was, he said something about computers. I tell him I have written a blog from the first day and asked if he would like to read it. I would be glad to print it out. (A suggestion from Shawn). He said he would. He then went into talking about his ailments and how he was feeling. My mission was complete. I unpacked his things and placed them exactly where he wanted them and was just getting ready to leave when he asked me to find someone that can show him where to smoke. I walk down the lonely hall and meet a woman who tells me everyone is on the second floor. I go up the elevator and it is a whole different world. Men and women are wandering the hallway in their wheelchairs. I am immediately brought back to the days when my own father was in the nursing home his last six months. One woman stops me, tell me she is Mrs. Rose and could I please tell her where she is supposed to be? I assure her I will find out and return, another woman tells me to push her back to her room, so I oblige as she thanks me over and over only to meet with a male nurse asking if I am family. I tell him "no, I walked by and she needed me to push her", he said firmly "well, we don't want her in her room yet, she will go to bed and fall out", she is upset and just keeps saying "no, no, no". I tell her that this nice man is taking care of her and he is making sure she is safe. I look at him and say "take care of her!". I continue to walk down the hall to locate someone that can help me with John. Finally the first nurse that directed me to his room sees me and tells me to send him upstairs and she will direct him to the smoking area. I go back down the elevator and am greeted by him as the doors open. I escort him onto the elevator and show him where to go, he exits and heads down the hall when he is stopped by Mrs. Rose, she looks at him and then me and says "are you taking me home with you?" he laughs and as the elevator door starts to close I hear him tell her "No, that's my daughter in law, she is married to my eldest son Frank.........." I exit the building and can't wait to get back to Zack, promising myself that I do not need to return. I plug in the Hospital into my GPS ( hey I'm still getting lost here) and half way down the road, realize it is NOT going to take me 7 hours to get back to Zack and I was heading in the wrong direction. The GPS was sending me to a hospital in Tennessee. I was only 2 minutes "out of the way", so it directed me in the right way and within 10 minutes I was back with my Zackman.
He was relaxing in the rocker and on his laptop. He asked how it went, I said "mission accomplished", he said " Good, now can you relax and we have fun for the rest of my stay?" "You got it!!!" I remind him that Frank will stay with him tomorrow night, so he can torture his Dad . He says "I LOVE my DAD"!! HE bought me new tires for my car!!! BRAT!!!! We have a good laugh! We just hang out while the rest of his medicine and fluids are dripping into his IV. He is feeling tired from the Benedryl, so I know it won't be long before he is asleep. I am reminded of my friends quote and it seems to be appropriate for this day, "everything is as it should be".... at least for now.